The Underdog Triumphs

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Auntie Jennie

Today my sister and I went to visit our great Aunt Jennie. Part out of guilt, part out of genuine desire we made the hour trek south to the home where she now resides.

The home I always remembered though was a three story walk up on Kenneth avenue on the north side of Chicago. Plastic covered the sofas, statues of the Virgin Mary lived amongst glass bowls and picture frames on the bureaus. (For those of you confused due to last blog, my mom converted to Judaism, hence her family is Catholic.)

As a young adult we sporadically went her apartment on Sunday afternoons for the traditional Sicilian Sunday dinner. Lots of pasta with her special homemade sauce, chicken, meatballs, cookies, and breads. But the main attraction was always Auntie. At less than 5 feet she was always smiling, cracking jokes and making sure we all ate enough.

When I was a young college student living in the city, I'd stop every once in while, always bringing her a McDonald's hamburger. She was never short of thank you's and as a Crochet maven, I even got a new grayish silver scarf out of the deal.

Today her face lit up when we interrupted the bingo game (usually a big no-no in that environment, but she wasn't even playing anyway) and we walked over to say hello. We went to here small room to talk, and realized how much she was mentally slipping. We talked of our cousins wedding and three times in a row she worried no one would come pick her up and take her to it. She knows she's 94 or 95, but doesn't remember the year she was born. We spoke of our mother and she asked if she was still with us. She kept referring to all this new family she has, but we realized it us. She just doesn't recognize us anymore.

It's hard to fathom how the brain works and how it must feel-if it feels-when it begins to slip. Memories have a way of slowly fading from our brains after a time, but what happens when you begin to forget your whole life?

In the meantime, I look forward to giving the violet shawl she crocheted for me as a child, to my daughter (when and hopefully if I have one). And my mom has her recipe for spaghetti sauce. And the glue that always held my mother's side of the family together is only an hour away. I have the time to see her more, and a great desire to see her smile and hear her make jokes from behind the walker about taking her out dancing.


Blogger Kitty Moon said...

In my experience most folks who lose their mental capabilties are quite happy... it is the family that it is hard on.

11:50 PM  
Blogger Cheryl said...

I totally feel you on this. It happened to my grandma. I think she often felt embarrassed by it. But A's right it was even harder on us.

9:20 PM  

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